April 13th - April 19th, 2013
Dilapidated Tribeca Landmarks Finally on the Road to Recovery
April 12 - A crumbling, nearly two-century-old Tribeca building where a wall partially collapsed in January is finally undergoing a restoration, after years of complaints from neighbors and government agencies over its dilapidated condition, reported DNAinfo.com. Construction has already begun on the vacant, landmarked building at 502 Canal St. -- which accrued more than 20 complaints and 30 violations over the past two decades from the Department of Buildings -- architects on the project told members of Community Board 1 Thursday evening. The building owner, Ponte Equities, which did not appear at the meeting, has been threatened with lawsuits by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for its failure to care for the building, letting it fall into a state of decay. The brick building, landmarked in 1998, was constructed in 1819 for John Y. Smith, who ran a starch and hair powder business out of the ground floor and lived with his family above. According to the LPC website, it's part of a "rare surviving cluster of early 19th century structures in lower Manhattan" that includes neighboring 504 and 506 Canal St. All are landmarked, owned by Ponte, and have been hit with multiple violations, records show. The restoration plans still need final approval from the LPC.
Verizon to Move 1,100 Jobs from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn After Sandy Flooding
April 14 - Verizon plans to move 1,100 jobs from its corporate headquarters near the World Trade Center to a building in downtown Brooklyn -- in part due to concerns over recurring floods, according to the NY Daily News. The move from 140 West St. -- expected to take place by the end of the year -- represents a blow to the jobs market in Lower Manhattan, which has been reeling since last October from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. The 32-story Verizon Art Deco tower was evacuated on 9-11 and again after Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. The upcoming move to 395 Flatbush Ave. Extension drew a blast from Communications Workers of America Local 1101, which represents unionized workers. A company spokesman denied Verizon is closing its corporate headquarters. It's not clear how many workers will remain there. Critics say the move will harm businesses in the area that depend on the hundreds of Verizon workers to spend money.
Bike Share Program Starts Signing Up Customers
April 15 - New York City's long-awaited bike share program is open for business, if not quite ready for riders, reported the New York Times. Registration for the program -- which will allow members to use one of 6,000 bikes from 330 stations in Midtown, Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, then return it to a different station -- began on Monday, weeks before the expected opening sometime next month. Officials said hundreds had registered on Monday morning, many jockeying for the blue "founding member" keys distributed to the first 5,000 to sign up. (Later members will receive darker blue keys.) Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner, said she "wouldn't be surprised" if the city surpassed 5,000 memberships this week, an estimate that may prove conservative: by 3 p.m. on Monday, more than 2,500 people had signed up. Annual memberships, at a pretax cost of $95, allow riders to use bikes for as long as 45 minutes without an additional charge. Ms. Sadik-Khan noted, as the city often has, that the yearly cost is less than the cost of a single 30-day unlimited-ride MetroCard. The program, which was originally scheduled to begin last summer, has seen a series of delays -- first because of software problems, then because of flooding sustained by much of the system infrastructure at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during Hurricane Sandy.
9/11 Memorial Charging $2 Reservation Fee
April 15 - Visitors to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum must now pay a $2 service fee to reserve passes online or by phone, reported NBC News and other sources. The fee went into effect last month, although there is no charge for admission to the memorial on the World Trade Center site. There is also no charge for same-day passes distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Family members of some 9/11 victims say the fee violates the memorial's mission. The memorial website says the reservation system is temporary until certain construction projects are finished. Tax-funded grants have paid for about $300 million worth of construction, and more than $400 million came from private donations. The memorial opened in 2011, attracting about 7 million visitors so far to its two reflecting pools with waterfalls that outline the footprints of the fallen towers. The foundation that runs the memorial estimates that once the project is complete, the memorial and museum will together cost $60 million a year to operate. The museum is still under construction after an interruption involving a funding fight between the foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the 16-acre trade center site. Officials have said that the failure to open the museum on time has thrown off the foundation's financial planning.
Woman Sexually Assaulted In Area Near NYPD Headquarters
April 15 - A 28-year-old woman was grabbed by the neck and sexually assaulted Sunday morning while walking away from the Fulton-Nassau Street subway station, police said. NY1 and other sources reported that the victim was followed from the Fulton Street A train by a suspect, police said, who then attacked her five blocks away at the corner of Park Row and Beekman Street near City Hall, cops said. The attacker grabbed her around the neck and pulled down her pants, police said, before she was able to begin screaming for help. Construction workers at a nearby site came running over to help her, and the suspect fled, police said. Police arrested the 17-year-old suspect, Amauri Azcona of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, charging him with attempted rape, sex abuse, assault and strangulation. The woman was taken to a nearby hospital in stable condition.
9/11 Memorial 5K Run Increases Security After Boston Attacks
April 16 - Two big races planned in Manhattan on Sunday will not be canceled but they will have beefed-up security because of Monday's deadly Boston Marathon attacks, an NYPD spokesman said Tuesday. DNAinfo.com reported that the races are the 9-11 Memorial 5K Run-Walk and a New York Road Runners Central Park race to benefit the City Parks Foundation. Anthony Guido, the communications manager for the 9/11 Memorial, declined to comment on security details, but said that racers for the first 9-11 Memorial 5K Run/Walk, an event held to honor 9-11 victims and support the memorial, simply need to show up as planned. The inaugural 9-11 race is slated to kick off at Pier 57 in Hudson River Park on Sunday morning and head Downtown toward the memorial. A day of family activities is also scheduled, on Vesey Street between Church and Broadway, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The NYRR race to support City Parks Foundation -- a nonprofit that offers free sports, fitness, arts and education programs across the city -- is also set for Sunday morning, a spokesman said. The race will start at East 68th Street, head north in the park, loop around at 102nd Street, and then finish on the West Side at the 72nd Street transverse.
Stairs to Rector Street Pedestrian Bridge Closed as Rehab Project is Planned
April 16 - The Rector Street pedestrian bridge is slated for a rehabilitation project that will replace the staircase at its western end, as well as the walking surface on its span, reported The Broadsheet. While the Battery Park City Authority, which maintains the bridge on behalf of its owner, the State Department of Transportation, prepares to replace the staircase on the west side of the bridge, it has closed the steps. "We received a complaint last week there was a 'bubble' on one of the steps," explains BPCA spokesman Matthew Monahan. "The bubble turned out to be an expansion of the anti-skid material previously applied to the stairs. This is not a structural issue about the stairs themselves. We've kept the bridge open, but as a precaution, access from the Battery Park City-side of the bridge is, for now, limited to the ramp at Albany Street." The Authority is in the preliminary stages of a two-phase plan to improve the bridge, which was erected in 2002 as a temporary structure with a projected maximum life span of five years. Once this part of the project is completed, the second phase, resurfacing the walkway over West Street, will begin. No projected timeline for the project was immediately available, although bidding documents on the BPCA website estimated that it might take as long as three months. No decision has been made about whether the bridge will have to be closed while the deck is resurfaced.